Ros Houghton recently emailed and asked, "I keep tweaking my work and cannot leave it alone. Am I going mad?"
Firstly, I told her that she wasn't going mad! It's important for a writer to assess their work and look for ways to improve it. Work should be the best it can be when it is submitted.
However, if there comes a time when tweaking or titivating is preventing you from submitting a piece of work then you need to stop!
Ros's situation is that a publisher has asked to see the first few chapters of her work, so whilst she's waiting for the publisher to respond to that, she's busy 'tweaking' the rest of her manuscript. This is fine because her work is still being considered whilst she looks for ways in which to improve her text, so that when (thinking positively!) the publisher asks to see the rest of the text, she knows it is the best she can make it.
I always advocate putting your work aside for a day or so and then reviewing it with fresh eyes. If you make an amendment, put it to one side again and then review it later with fresh eyes, and continue doing this until you read it without making an amendment.
So if I write a first draft of an article on a Monday, I'll review it Tuesday, then Wednesday and so on, but usually by Thursday I'm ready to submit it.
But of course, if you keep 'tweaking' a piece of work forever, you will never send it out and the only way it will get published is by submitting it. So be realistic with yourself. If the only amendment you are considering making is whether a comma should or should not be taken out, make a decision and then send your work out. Your work won't be rejected on the basis of whether that particular comma is right or not.
A writer whose aim is to write for publication, but keeps amending their work and never gets around to sending it out IS going mad! So don't go mad ... get it written ... get it right ... then send it out!
Finally, I just want to say congratulations to Sarah Radev who has just been offered a regular column in Kennel and Cattery Management magazine. She's certainly someone who can't spend all her time tweaking her work now - she's got a monthly deadline to adhere to!